Severely disabled vets to take financial hit

OTTAWA — Some of the country’s most severely disabled soldiers will take a major financial hit once they hit old age and risk living out their final years in near-poverty, Canada’s veterans ombudsman has concluded.

OTTAWA — Some of the country’s most severely disabled soldiers will take a major financial hit once they hit old age and risk living out their final years in near-poverty, Canada’s veterans ombudsman has concluded.

A report and a painstaking actuarial analysis by Guy Parent’s office are due to be released on Tuesday, but copies were obtained by The Canadian Press.

The study compares the old system of compensating veterans under the Pension Act with the New Veterans Charter, marquee legislation championed by the Harper government since it was enacted in 2006.

It shows that roughly 406 severely disabled veterans, mostly from Afghanistan and recent peacekeeping missions, will be left out in the cold because they don’t receive certain allowances — or a Canadian Forces pension.

“It is simply not acceptable to let veterans who have sacrificed the most for their country — those who are totally and permanently incapacitated — live their lives with unmet financial needs,” said a leaked copy of the report.

Almost a full one-third of the nearly 1,500 soldiers, who have thus far been declared permanently disabled, could also be a risk, depending upon their circumstances. Many of them receive only small allowances and pension entitlements.

The report, which was four years in the making, shows families of veterans who’ve passed away also take an old age hit because “the cash flow going to survivors ceases when the veteran reaches the age of 65,” whereas it continued under the previous pension system.

Compensation for pain-and-suffering awards was also found to be lacking, and Parent noted that specific “improvements are required” only two years after the Conservatives completed the first overhaul of the charter.

Officials in Parent’s office and a spokesman for veterans minister Julian Fantino were both not immediately available for comment.

The Harper government, which has had a copy of the report all summer, tried to avoid some of the political fallout last week by preemptively announcing it supported a planned, legislated review of the charter by a House of Commons committee.

Indeed, Parent said he prepared the twin reports to guide the committee and to help separate fact from fiction.

Since its inception, many veterans have criticized the charter as being less generous than the previous system.

The notion is at the centre of a lawsuit by Afghan war veterans.

The actuarial report shows ex-soldiers end up with more money in their pockets up front and to the age of retirement than with the checkerboard of pensions it replaced.

But awards for so-called non-economic benefits, such as payments for lost limbs and trauma, pale in comparison to what was given out before when pensions are stretched over a lifetime.

The lump sum payments don’t even equal what are handed out by Canadian courts in personal injury cases.

The lump sum has been a lightning rod issue because its structure is similar to the provincial workers compensation system, something many in uniform have said is inappropriate for those called upon to risk down their lives for the country.

Many soldiers have said they’d like to see it abolished.

Mike Blais, president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy, said a happy medium exists.

His group has called on the federal government to make changes that would see veterans without pensions given some other kind of life-time compensation, either through an extension of the current earnings loss benefit — or some other mechanism.

He has also pushed for a substantial increase in lump sum awards that would make it equal to what ex-soldiers received under the old pension system.

“Nobody can accept a lump sum award that is completely inadequate,” he said on Sunday. “All veterans from all eras deserve to have (the country’s) sacred obligation to them honoured until end-of-life.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of the Red Deer RCMP downtown patrol monitor for drug activity and property crimes. (Advocate file photo).
Two peace officers are training to join Red Deer’s downtown police patrol unit

This “integrated” unit will be the first in Alberta

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students celebrate Pink Shirt Day

All across the province, Albertans wore pink Wednesday to celebrate Pink Shirt… Continue reading

City of Red Deer has nearly doubled its active COVID-19 case count since Feb. 10 and has 75.6 per cent of the Central zone’s active cases. (File photo)
Another new high: Red Deer hits 574 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports 13 new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases

A homeless shelter was promised Red Deer to help the city deal with downtown issues. The city and province finally released a signed agreement on what the facility will offer, a year after a $7 million commitment was made for the project by the province. (Advocate file photo).
City and province take next step in bringing a 24/7 shelter to Red Deer

It will include a detox and counselling services

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. A new survey says eroding trust in scientists, CEOs and journalists could hamper the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
9 Red Deer pharmacies set to offer COVID-19 vaccine to seniors next week

Seniors in Red Deer and Central Alberta will have more access to… Continue reading

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announces $43 million in repairs and improvements to provincial parks at a news conference in Calgary on Sep. 15, 2020. Two of Alberta's largest First Nations have written letters to coal companies saying they will oppose any new mine proposals in the Rocky Mountains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
‘Serious concerns’: Alberta First Nations oppose coal expansion in Rocky Mountains

‘Serious concerns’: Alberta First Nations oppose coal expansion in Rocky Mountains

A street sign along Bay Street in Toronto's financial district is shown in Toronto on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto stock market climbs on strong gains by energy and financials sectors

Toronto stock market climbs on strong gains by energy and financials sectors

A National Bank sign is seen May 30, 2016 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
National Bank sees profit rise as consumers save, invest more

National Bank sees profit rise as consumers save, invest more

Email editor@interior-news.com
Letter: Read up on tax report

The Advocate article published Feb. 20 about the Canadian Taxpayers Federation slamming… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: When Kenney promises no tax hike, does he mean it?

Premier Jason Kenney is trying to assure Albertans that there won’t be… Continue reading

kkk
Budget opinion: Cutting advanced education funding will stunt region growth

The Alberta budget expected to be tabled this week follows a year… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney makes his way to the chamber in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Kenney says a recent bump in energy prices in the third quarter of the budget is helping the bottom line as his government prepares to introduce its 2021-22 budget. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Higher oil prices boosting Alberta’s bottom line as budget looms Thursday: Kenney

EDMONTON — Premier Jason Kenney says a recent bump in energy prices… Continue reading

Most Read